Michael Carrick: Middlesbrough League Cup win inspiring players for Chelsea semi-final clash

Michael Carrick has spoken about Middlesbrough's 2004 League Cup win ahead of his side's semi-final against Chelsea in the same competition. Credit: PA

Michael Carrick has admitted that Middlesbrough's previous League Cup winning success is a big inspiration to his side as the seek to repeat the feat.

Boro lifted major silverware for the first, and only, time in their history in the 2004 League Cup final curtesy of a 2-1 over Bolton Wanderers at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Middlesbrough have now reached the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since and face Chelsea over two legs for a place in the Wembley showpiece next month.

Pictures of England manager Gareth Southgate, then Middlesbrough captain, lifting the trophy adorn the walls of training ground and Carrick is aware of the impact the day made and the shadows it continues to cast.

England manager Gareth Southgate captained Middlesbrough to the League Cup trophy in 2004. Credit: PA

“It feels a long time ago," he said in his pre-match press conference. "From the club’s point of view, it’s a huge, huge day for the club and I remember it. Gareth was playing, Juninho was playing. I’ve seen the pictures up around here and I know what it means to people.

“It was a major part of the history of the club and a massive, massive success, so I’m fully aware of what that means to the supporters and so many people connected to the club, so again that’s what you can achieve if things come together.”

It will be no easy task to return to the final with Chelsea and their expensively-assembled side heavy favourites to progress. Carrick is under no illusions that his team will be the underdogs but has urged his players to seize the opportunity.

"We've come this far and it is an unbelieveable opportunity for us," he said. "We have quite a lot of young players in the group so for them it is an unbelieveable experience.

"For the supporters, it what you support a team for, to try and be successful and have big days and big nights.

"We are totally realistic and we know whats ahead of us and we know what we face but these are the games you want to be involved in."

Mauricio Pochettino's Chelsea are heavy favourites to progress against Middlesbrough in the League Cup. Credit: PA

Carrick also took the opportunity to look back as his time as Middlesbrough head coach ahead of the semi-final, in what is one of the biggest matches of his tenure. The 42-year-old admits he is a much better manager than he was 14 months ago and is looking forward to putting that learning into practice at the Riverside.

“There are times through your career when you have good spells and others when you don’t get results. But even when you aren’t getting results, you can be performing really well and feel good and know that it’s coming around.

“There are always ups and downs. It’s sticking to your beliefs and principles. Having those ups and downs the past year has benefited me in terms of how I deal with that.

“With the responsibility and the journey we’ve been on, I have loved every minute of it. I’m very hopeful that there is plenty more to come.”

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